Photos--Please help! Is it dead or can it be resuscitated?

soozMarch 15, 2010

Our friend John has two well-established camellias in his back yard. They are maybe (just guessing here) 25 years old, over 6 feet tall, and one has white flowers and one has red flowers and they bloom at different times. They are next to one another--the first photo is with me facing West to take the picture. These photos were taken around 1:30 pm today.

The white camellia bush has dropped almost all of its leaves within the past few months, and now is mostly bare branches. We cannot remember this happening ever. John lives in east San Diego county, where winters are rather mild. These two bushes are in the shade from the back part of the house--the back part of the house faces North. You can see it still has some green leaves on the tips of its branches.

Close up of branches with dessicated leaves, but you can see green leaves at the tips of the branches:

How do we know if it's dead? If it's not dead, what is wrong with it and how can we help it?

The red camillia bush is blooming now, but has some dark and yellow-ish areas on its leaves. What is it and what can we do to help it? Also, being rather unfamiliar with things, when is a good time to trim back these bushes in the southern California region?

Thanks for any help!



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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Didn't you folks have some cold weather down there this winter? How lo did it go? And for how long?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 12:31AM
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Hi Jean001, we did have some cold weather, a couple of nights in the low 40s, but from what I recall, no more than a couple days in a row. Most lows during winter are in the mid 50s from what my DH recalls. Last week, one or two very cold nights, but todays temp was close to 80 (but felt like 72).

Any ideas? Could the cold have done this? And why wasn't the red camillia bush affected?


    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 2:05AM
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I do not know the climate of the area where they live two camellias. My first opinion: At two camellias lacked irrigation water for some months hot. The red camellia flower is not good. For a camellia japonica remain without leaves because of cold, must be very cold, and for many days. Therefore I do not think it cold. I think the lack of water. You can also do the same, when there is much water in the roots and for several weeks.

The flooding and lack of oxygen in the earth, eventually drown the camellias. I hope my comments may assist the investigation of the problem of the two camellias.

Daniel D.F. oKintos

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 6:59PM
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Thank you Daniel, for sharing your input with me. Our friend John is pretty good at taking care of his plants and bushes, so maybe somehow there is a problem with the soil. I appreciate your ideas of what might be wrong, and things to do that might help!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 1:18AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

You said " Last week, one or two very cold nights,"

How cold is "very cold?"

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 12:18AM
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Hi, Jean, if memory serves, it got down to 43 degrees (very cold for this area of SoCal), but the bare branches started waaaaaay before that.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 3:00AM
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That leaf loss is unusual and a camellia should be able to take 43 degrees in stride--when it gets down to the single digits you need to worry. Daniel's suggestion has plenty of merit--watering (too much or too little) can have a marked effect on camellias, and of the 2, over-watering is the more severe; mature camellias like those in your pictures can withstand quite a bit of drought--might dampen down the blooming, but shouldn't cause that horrendous leaf drop. Over-watering can cause severe and rapid leaf loss and death. Did you have a particularly wet winter?--I know my sister up in SF did. If so, that may be your problem with the red camellia being a tad more tolerant than the sickly looking bush or the soil in which the sickly one is planted may just have its own micro-microclime.

Check to see if the sick bush has any healthy leaf buds and if so you could just wait to see if those elongate--that it has ANY foliage IS a positive thing. You could also root around and see if the earth it's planted in is in need of amendment with sand, peat and/or perlite to improve the drainage. Kind of a pain, but wet feet certainly can kill a camellia--trim out the dead branches and it should fill out again in good time.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 4:56PM
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What about mineral deficiencies? If the soil is not acidic the plant can't get what it needs even if it's in soil. I'd take photo to a good local nursery.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:02AM
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